So here I am out in the Pacific Northwest for a meeting in Sumner, Washington. As is my custom,I take a personal day to do something fun as well and today, as I am driving up the rural road to Crystal Mountain, I thought of my dad. It was 52 years ago that he and my mom took my sister and I skiing for the first time in a raging snowstorm in Pa. What a great gift he gave us and look what he started. The gift that kept giving all of these years. I had a chance to think about it on the drive because I was by myself and had time to think and enjoy the drive through the Cascades. I was supposed to connect with a friend who lives out here but she and her daughter were still in Vail and we could not coordinate schedules. But, you know what, that’s ok. I don’t mind being by myself and I don’t mind skiing by myself. Not to appear conceited but I do enjoy my own company. I have the time to talk to myself and sometimes I get answers. But all in all, when you are flying solo, you get to do whatever you want, ski whatever slope or trail strikes your fancy, you can stop for that relaxing cup of coffee or stop by the local ski shop and browse without having to meet someone or others. There are no conversations that say,” what do you want to ski? I don’t know, what do you want to ski? I don’t know?” You just ……do it. I was the first guy up the gondola today and the skies cleared for a moment as if my dad was looking down and had a conversation with the Big Guy up there and asked for a break from the rain. In the Pacific Northwest you can get anything at any time but that is what Gore Tex is for and that is why the locals don’t even think about weather. They just put on the Gore Tex and ski. The mountains are beautiful and even though Mt. Ranier hid from me today like a shy kid, I still saw wonderful scenery, had a great day of skiing…………flying solo.
I have a friend who owns a marina up on Lake George in the Adirondacks and he hates to ski by himself. I was always puzzled about this. Lots of times you can meet the nicest and most interesting people on a chair lift ride. There is a lot of lift time during a day of skiing and if you are the least bit personable, you can strike up a conversation if you like or you can keep your head down and nobody blames you in the least because they figure you are keeping to yourself. But the opportunity is there if you want it. I am a social guy and all the disclaimers to my friends and family, I like to do things with them. Especially fun things like skiing. But there are days like today where you have the whole day to yourself without any obligations and dagnabbit…..it is enjoyable sometimes. As much as I say I enjoy being by myself, it is still amazing how many people I still engage in conversation. It started with the coffee ladies at one of the many coffee shacks here in the Northwest. They are neat little places that say,” Coffee with a Purpose” or ” The Best Coffee in Enumclaw,Wa” The ladies are friendly and I converse with them and then I am on my way. I talk to the lift attendants and thank them for their attention in loading the chair. I rode up with the ski patrol on several runs and also skied with a bunch of hairbag locals who engaged me in conversation, although my lingo and theirs are a little different. But the language of skiing is universal if you can turn em both ways. So, as much as I say I was by myself flying solo, I really was not if you consider talking to complete strangers and feeling comfortable.
Mountain Biking is my other passion and as much as I like to ride with my friends( and I do!!), those days when you hit the trails solo are really enjoyable. No pressure to keep up or decide on which trails to take. Just ride and enjoy the day. If you can get a day where you see no one, it is ok. It is just you, the trails, the woods and ……………the silence. Sometimes you see people on the trail and you say hello, but it is a brief moment in time and then you are flying solo again. Sunshine, rain, whatever…..the days are enjoyable when you don’t have to make any decisions. Sometimes you need that. We all have stress in our lives and sometimes you just have to get away. Nothing like a solo chairlift ride or a solo ride that can recharge your batteries and get you back to feeling positive again.
So, today was a gift in the Cascades. I can thank my dad for starting it all. I had time to think about that. I thought about my family back home and shared some text thoughts with them. I met some nice folks and we had a lot of conversations about how bad the weather was and how good the snow was and really…who cares anyways. We were having fun. I arrived early and left late and enjoyed the day…..flying solo. Thanks for reading and enjoy your own company will ya?